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Say You, Cliché Me


Something I wrote earlier that deserves expansion: "A cliché is as much about the deployment and the mode of use as it is the item itself; the mere fact something can be a cliché, or has been one in another venue, doesn't automatically make it one."

The way I think about this has come to echo how I think about, say, genres or other "pre-mades" in fiction. Genres and cliché ingredients — what's come to be collectively called tropes — are starting points. They're things that you have to infuse with a little of yourself, or something from outside the container they were delivered in, before they can become their own things.

This is all highly subjective, and not every attempt to do so is going to resonate with people. Some will only see the cliché, and that shuts them down right there. Others will see everything else around it that gives it life, and will respond to the whole. You can't predict which reaction people are going to take, and in my opinion you shouldn't try. Focus instead of making the thing in your hands the thing in your hands, and then making it the thing that escapes from your hands and becomes all the more its own thing.

Most people are not critics, and most critics are more interested in defending their own taste in a pseudo-rational, systematized way than they are in trying to understand why something is the way it is. So when someone says "what a cliché!" about a given story element, I do have to wonder what they are specifically responding to — the mere presence of the element, the way it's deployed, the baggage it has for them from other things, etc. It's fine if they don't like it, but analysis is another story.

Tags: creativity  storytelling  writing 


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This page contains a single entry by Serdar Yegulalp in the category Uncategorized / General, published on 2018/04/17 08:00.

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